Uncle Podger is an example of a man who has set his mind on being an example of good manners and work ethic but fails miserably based on his pride. Podger sets out each morning well before he has to leave for work, but he is almost always late and running to catch the train, despite always telling his nephew,
Allow yourself a quarter of an hour, and take it easily. (Chapter 5)
His house is only an eight minute walk from the train station, but because he leaves just five minutes before the train every day, he always has to run. Now, the narrator explains that Podger is to blame for his tardiness because he is forgetful and careless, but he has too much pride to allow himself to shoulder the blame. Instead of recognizing that he always misplaces his newspaper or tends to forget his things, he blames everyone else in the house for misplacing them. The narrator relates,
It never occurred to my Uncle Podger to say to himself:
"I am a careless old man. I lose everything: I never know where I have put anything. I am quite incapable of finding it again for myself. In this respect I must be a perfect nuisance to everybody about me. I must set to work and reform myself."
On the contrary, by some peculiar course of reasoning, he had convinced himself that whenever he lost a thing it was everybody else's fault in the house but his own. (Chapter 5)
Uncle Podger is unable to blame himself for the things he loses but instead stays stuck in his mode of thinking that everyone else is at fault for his misfortune. This means that he never gets out of the house earlier than five minutes before the train arrives. Along with misplacing his newspaper, he often loses his hat and umbrella, then has to say goodbye to all the children—some of who are invariably missing, and then he once again forgets his hat and umbrella after running out of the house.
The way the narrator describes the events, it's almost a ritual. Despite his best intentions, Uncle Podger is stuck in a sad ritual of perpetual tardiness, unable to recognize his faults and correct the issue so that he might be able to walk to the train station sensibly. Instead, he is upset that the local nurses, maids, and children stand around watching him and other gentlemen sprint to catch the train—something that is of great interest to the people who have little to do in the morning.